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Square Dance (with Corky Calkins)

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Square Dance (with Corky Calkins)


This 1955 film, produced by Roger Tilton, features Corky Calkins and his band. Calkins was a popular caller in the Springfield, MA, area. Among the dances shown here are Nellie Bly, The Route and the Virginia Reel.

Ralph Sweet comments: "When we first moved into this area [near Springfield, MA] Corky Calkins was going strong. He had regular dances at the Agawam Congregational Church, also at what is now the South Amherst Library which was where the Grange met - he also called at my barn on Saturday nights. He called all over south and western MA for many years, but one night that he was supposed to be calling at my barn (I was off on a different gig involving MWSD) he died of a heart attack while showering to get ready to come and call. Ray Gay took over most of his gigs after that, for awhile. But that type of dance was on the decline, and finally petered out, and Modern Western was on the rise.

" Contra dancing was almost completely dead (this was before Dudley Laufman revived it) and if I wanted to experience contra dancing, I had to dance to Ralph Page (which I did, in Boston), or drive up to the Brattleboro area, and dance to "Shorty" Durand, or Elmer Clark, or Ralph P in Keene.

" Corky was aware of contra dancing, but almost never actually called one at his square dances, The dancers of his time thought contras were old-fashioned and not much fun, and it was a struggle each time, although contras WERE done down here a generation or so previously. My grandparents would do some contras (but mostly squares) in Scotland, CT when my father was a kid. Opera Reel (probably actually they did Chorus Jig to the tune of Opera Reel), Boston Fancy, and Money Musk at least. But everywhere they did squares, as it was in Brattleboro, You would get only about 4 contras each evening, maybe 4 - 5 sets ("tips" ) of 3 different squares each, and in between, usually THREE fox trots, polkas, or waltzes.."



Original 16mm film is in the collection of the Library of Congress, Motion Picture/Broadcast division.

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This Item is related to Item: Corky Calkins - two programs